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Sunday 21 October 2018

O'Connor is facing a spell on the sidelines

Rory O’Connor of Wexford in action against James Burke and Tommy Walsh of Kilkenny during the Bord Gais Energy Leinster GAA Hurling Under-21 championship final
Rory O’Connor of Wexford in action against James Burke and Tommy Walsh of Kilkenny during the Bord Gais Energy Leinster GAA Hurling Under-21 championship final

Brendan Furlong

Wexford's teenage attacker Rory O'Connor is likely to miss most of the Allianz National Hurling League Division 1A campaign having undergone knee surgery.

While O'Connor is likely to be out for up to twelve weeks, there are early injury concerns for Shaun Murphy, who is managing a calf problem, while both Jack Guiney and Paul Morris are also nursing knocks, but they are expected to be available for the opening league game away to Waterford on January 28.

There has been plenty of comings and goings in the Senior hurling squad.

Manager Davy Fitzgerald said: 'There has been a turnover of twelve to thirteen players. Between me drawing up a new panel, a few guys leaving and bringing in new guys, and I think there are two or three guys that were on the football panel.

'One of those guys that I had looked for last year was Colm Kehoe. We'd sat down and talked. I'd say he nearly wanted to come last year, but he said, 'let me give a year to the football, and I'd like to give one to the hurling'.

'I think he knows that he couldn't do both so I respect that and he's giving it a go. There are one or two other guys, one asked me for a trial for a month and I've given it to him. James Breen is gone from last year but he'd nearly told me that last year that his body wouldn't be up to it. He's a big farmer in Wexford. He'll be a big loss to us, without a shadow of a doubt.'

Fitzgerald believes he's well ahead with Wexford after a thrilling first season, but claims Leinster or All-Ireland title talk is 'load of rubbish'.

Having guided Wexford to a shock promotion to Division 1A and a Leinster final, Fitzgerald said: 'the initial requirement as outlined by by the county chairman when I got the job, was merely to get us promoted and into a Leinster final in three years.'

But while he balked at bookmakers placing Wexford second last in the running for this year's All-Ireland, he insisted they're definetly not top of that list either.

Fitzgerald said a realistic aim for Wexford in their second season under their guidance is to retain their Division 1A status, and to finish in the top three in the new five-team round-robin series of the Leinster championship.

'In my head, I would love us to stay in Division 1A. That would be massive. Then you would like to get one of the three spots in Leinster.

'You must have that as a goal. If you get into one of those three spots, you are there or thereabouts for quarter-final day, you aren't too far away.

'They are two things I've said to myself I would love to do. We will try everything to do that. If you are managing to do those things I've just said, then you are in with a chance of winning stuff.

'Let's do the simple things first and see after that what happens. I'm not buiilding castles in the sky because there is no point. I just don't believe in saying we are going to win Leinster and to win the All-Ireland.

'I think that is a load of rubbish. I don't think you can do that, we just take it game by game. We have a savage Leinster championship next year, we have Dublin first, Offaly second, Galway then, and then the mother of all battles with Kilkenny.'

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